The FDA has approved the world's first-ever human trial of a medical treatment using embryonic stem cells, the New York Times reports. The move is being hailed as a watershed moment for medical research. Biotech company Geron plans to inject the cells—which can turn into any type of cell in the body—into people with new, severe spinal cord injuries in an attempt to repair some of the damage.
The trial isn't expected to yield miraculous results, Geron's chief executive cautioned, but is intended to test the therapy's safety. Regulators deny that the decision has anything to do with the change in administration, although Barack Obama has signaled that he is willing to overturn Bush administration policies that banned federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.